A computer-free day. I didn't even bother to check my email. I spent the whole day working on the house. This is nice work to do when you take the time to do it. I've spent days designing and hanging a lamp for my kitchen. It looks great.
Since 'Mezzanine' from 'Massive Attack' turned out such a great success I decided to borrow 'Portishead' from the library. I've avoided listening to music since my mini disc walkman was stolen from my backpack. Funny how such a thing can effect you.
I finished re-reading Samuel Delany's 1984 novel about the porter Rat Korga 'Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand'. Rat stands for Radical Anxiety Termination, a lobotomy practiced on Korga's home world (one of the 6,000 inhabited worlds in the novel). By remarkable chance Rat escapes 'cultural fugue', or the total destruction of his planet by its inhabitants and gets to meet his 'perfect erotic object'--calculated by the novel's 'web spider' out to seven decimal places--the industrial diplomat, Marq Dyeth.
[JK take note] this is the Delany novel which contains the speaking column, an AI/expert system, representing Marq Dyeth's seven-times great-grandmother, who is embedded/embodied in Dyeth's home, the house of his 'nuture stream'. Rat manages to switch it on. No one has consulted it for decades...
Delany is an academic as well as an SF author, the book is filled with references to Freud and Dickens. What makes his SF unique is its sexual characterizations, exploring familial, interspecies (interracial) and homosexual relationships. An online search for recent books turned up one title "The Mad Man" which must take Delany's predilections to the extreme.
The opening lines to 'Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand' are great:
"Of course," they told him in all honesty, "you will be a slave."
His big-pored forehead wrinkled, his heavy lips opened (the flesh around his green, green eyes stayed exactly the same), the ideogram of incomprehension among whose radicals you could read ignorance's determinant past, information's present impossibility, speculation's denied future.
"But you will be happy," the man in the wire-filament mask went on from the well in the circle desk. "Certainly you will be happier than you are." The features moved behind pink and green plastic lozenges a-shake on shaking wires.
I had the idea once of creating a database of the opening (and maybe the closing) lines of books that I like. 'Stars in my Pocket...' would be in there for sure.
It's early Sunday evening. In the yacht harbor below my window some kids are swimming... This is Maas water--is it clean enough?
Everything you always wanted to know about webrings but were afraid to ask: http://www.webring.org
Woke up very early--thinking about cities and diversity. How much diversity is there between cities? Does a Canadian city differ much from an American city? Does a Dutch city much from a German city? What's the difference between Gibraltar and Singapore?
Joseph Bloch, a micropatrologist, counts 240 'different' countries:
At present, there are some 185 recognized members of the 'United Nations'. In addtion, there are over 50 members of the 'Unrecognized Nations and Peoples Organization'. Toss in a handful of 'recognized' countries that don't belong to the UN, and there are some 240 countries on this planet. These are the Macronations.
We can assume that between many of these countries there is very little difference.
Do countries diverge more or less than cities? I would suspect countries diverge less--as differences on the smaller 'city' scale tend to be cancelled out in the larger 'country' pool...
On the other hand, the larger the group the larger the 'attractor'. A divergent country has more power to pull away from the rest (a stronger escape velocity?) than a divergent city.
On another note I finally broke down and ordered Matt Neuberg's book on Frontier from Amazon. I've been working with Frontier every day for a good six months and it's time I learn to script and 'dig a little deeper' into its inner workings.
Went to the zoo today. Spent some time watching the Galapagos Tortoises, Geochelone elephantopus (Harlan 1827). I've known for sometime that they get really old (well over 100 years) but according to the sign at Blijdorp no one knows for sure how old they get, because no one has kept records for long enough! As an example: one specimen is recorded as being kept in an south army barracks as a mascot for 145 years--it was older than 145, for it was aquired when it was already an adult. It could have lived even longer as it died not from natural causes but because of an accident! (The sign at Blijdorp doesn't specify the nature of the accident but somewhere else I read it was run over by a truck...)
Could this be the oldest living animal? I did a lot of research last fall into flora and fauna longevity but was unable to find any conclusive studies on this question...
Galapagos Tortoises interest me for the following reasons:
TEOTWAWKI or Apoca-lips: Kiss the Abyss
Bought the August issue of Wired. The first article to capture my attention is a piece on the Y2K bug (the year 2000 bug). The article describes how some pretty level headed (i.e. rational) systems analyists who have been working on the Y2K problem over the last couple of years have become more and more alarmed by the degree of the problem--some have quit their jobs, sold their houses and moved out to the country and begun stockpiling food and guns.
Millenialist Apocalysm? TEOTWAWKI (according to Wired pronounced "tee-OH-tawa-kee", which sounds to me almost native american) stands for The End Of The World As We Know It.
What article taught me: the trouble is not just a *software* problem. Even more insidious than bugs in code are bugs hard coded in embedded microcontrollers--used by the thousands in all kinds of control systems. What scares the Y2K survivalists shitless is the fact that power stations make liberal use of this sort of microcontroller. Y2Kaos will happen when a country's (or continent's) entire power grid goes down on a more or less permanent basis. TEOTWAWKI.
Jouke has been talking about the Y2K bug for sometime. We are extreme optimists (WAEO), but this risk is something which we plan to watch and evaluate carefully as we move closer to 1/1/2000.
Got a mail from Mike Tyler this morning--he sent along some interesting links. Thanks Mike!
APROPOS the email exchange that took place between JK and myself last March and archived here on Alamut as Incubators and Entrepreneurs, I'm including the following excerpt from a recent DaveNet piece entitled: 'The Emotional Age of the Internet'.
Dave Winer writes:
In Austin, TX, at the closing dinner of an independent Macintosh web developer conference in the summer of 1996, I asked a question. "Of all the people in this room, who is going to make $5 million in the next three years?" Eyes darted, not landing on any individual. That wouldn't have happened in the PC software market, or in the early Mac market. People believed that a bet could pay off.
The obvious response was to get out. No amount of pain is worth the hard work of being a developer without any potential payoff. If there's no way to win, why are we working so hard?
That's the realistic view, but in the mind-game world, powerlessness begets rage. People who realize they have no say in a future they're committed to, who struggle to stay there, even after the world has changed...
If you move, you have power. If you stay, you remain powerless. I really believe that powerless people must want it that way. The instant they want to be relieved of powerlessness, they just have to exercise their power and it's gone. Poof! It's just like mathematics.
Arjen Mulder had to come to Rotterdam for a meeting at V2, so we arranged to meet first for a bite to eat at Bazar on the Witte de Withstraat. Arjen arrived with a bag of presents: an article from the cultural supplement of the Parool (the Amsterdam newspaper) dated Saturday 27 June, mentioning the Wageningen University's refusal to allow me to use a small sample of Uranium in my Nuclear Garden in Wageningen (see my Art, Science and the 'U' Word); and three books for me to borrow.
The first book is an english translation of the latin treatise 'Mare Liberum' written in 1604-1605 by Hugo Grotius (aka Hugo de Groot). Arjen borrowed it for me from the University of Amsterdam library. I first came across references to this treatise while reading 17c. Dutch history for the Amsterdam 2.0 project. This is what Deric Regin had to say about it in his 'Traders, Artists, Burghers':
The 'Vrije Vaart', that terse expression of Amsterdam's common faith, represented more than just the mere notion of free, unencumbered shipping. It might indicate unadultered freebooting (i.e. by the 'vrijbuiter'), piracy and the snatching of Spanish 'silverfleets', it might mean the punishment of Dunkirk 'Kapers' who tried the same acts on Dutch ships, it might involve the ravishing of the natives' territory in the East Indies, or the forcing in 1644 of a toll-free entrance through the Danish Sound by Cornelis Witte de With. Beyond this, however, the free sea was the source of inspiration in the most original sense of the term, and it became the conception of a divine law.
It is therefore not without significance, that it should have been a Hollander who produced a doctrine of the free sea. Grotius' 'Mare liberum' is a true document of traders' pride, anonymously published in 1608 for the young aggressive East India Company. It was, to be sure, a lawyer's brief for the justification of any violent means, to which the company might have to resort in order to protect its trade against the Portuguese. Above this harsh reality, however, arose the human wisdom, through which Grotius could say: "Go on, o nation, never conquered on the sea, and fight courageously, not merely for your own freedom, but for that of the human species".
Regin, Deric: Traders Artists Burghers: a cultural history of Amsterdam in the 17th c.; Van Gorcum (1976)
I'm very excited about this treatise. Grotius states: "Every nation is free to travel to every other nation, and to trade with it." Can the 'Freedom of the Seas' be thought of as essential to the (Dutch) concept of publicness and 'public space'? Can the treatise be thought of as the basis of a 'Law of Public Space'? Can a theory of public space be formulated from the perspective of free 'trade, aid and embargo'? Grotius again: "Now, public territory arises out of the occupation of nations, just as private property arises out of the occupation of individuals."
Book two is Freya Stark's 'The Valleys of the Assassins'. A travelogue written by an english woman (a female Richard Burton?) first published in 1934. Arjen's copy is an old Penguin edition (orginal priced at '2/6') and has the following 'About this Book' printed on the inside cover:
The Valley of the Assassins, first published in 1934, is already a classic of travel. It is a chronicle of rare and enthralling journeys in the less accessible regions of Persia--including one to those remote valleys where an ancient sect called the 'Assassins' once practiced its sinister rites. Miss Freya Stark has been aptly compared to such great travellers as Kinglake and Doughty, for she has filled in many blank spaces on the maps of Persia and Arabia. This book is more than a narrative of unusual adventures, for it is also distinguished by a sensitive understanding of primitive people.
Book three is a book of interviews with Brion Gysin by Terry Wilson entitled 'Here to Go' which Arjen felt I'd be interested in. In the book Gysin discusses a visit to Alamut with Wilson and makes many references to Hasan-i Sabbah.
I'm having trouble mirroring/uploading alamut to the new server so you might not see this for a while. I did an upload yesterday which included incomplete entries for August 4. I completed the entries for Tortoise and TEOTWAWKI today.
Check this out: STICK FIGURE DEATH THEATRE: http://www.sfdt.com
Had dinner with Fred on the terrace of the Hotel New York. We discussed the matter of the book budget which I've been really sore about since his telling me on the 25th of July (when I visited him in Beetsterzwaag) that the Hfl. 10,000 that was to be reserved for the book was not available.
One solution would be to publish the book through Xlibris (http://www.xlibris.com). I'm hoping that Jouke can look into this when he's back from holiday. I'm curious about what sort of design control one might have publishing this way. If xlibris doesn't provide enough control I suppose one could set up their own lines of manufacture as easily as their own digital publishing house. JK! Is this a good business opportunity?
Xlibris is a publishing service in which the costs of publication are low enough for everyone to become their own publisher.
We apply technology to make it possible for authors to easily publish their books. We handle the publishing processes, manufacture and sell books, and pay royalties. At Xlibris, the author is the publisher. Authors retain all their rights and are always in control of their work. Last and most important, books published at Xlibris remain in print forever. Until the author decides otherwise, their book will be permanently available for sale.
Xlibris sells professionally-manufactured hardback books with text printed on acid-free, book-weight, literary quality paper, with dust covers printed in full color. The books are available for sale from Xlibris' Internet bookstore, as well as by phone, fax and mail order. Soon, Xlibris books will also be distributed nationally through bookstore order desks.
Authors pay a one-time fee of $450 to publish their books. As we receive orders, we manufacture books and deliver them by mail. Authors earn a royalty of 50% of the gross profit from each book sold, or about $4.00 per copy.
Xlibris uses the Internet and our proprietary digital publishing systems to make publishing more efficient than ever before. Books published at Xlibris are stored digitally. No book is ever printed until a reader orders it. When we receive an order for a book, we produce and deliver one copy specifically for the person who ordered it using direct printing technology. The benefits of this one small step are extraordinary. There is no enormous investment to make in printing at Xlibris --- ever. Since our inventory is completely electronic, and since we can manufacture books on-demand in quantities as low as a single copy, no book ever has to go out of print.
Read the following in my local door to door newspaper 'Groot Feijenoord' (my translation):
The number of Rotterdammers has risen for the first time since 1994. On the 1st of January 1998, 590,573 people were living within the city boundaries compared to the previous year's 589,965... The number of Dutch inhabitants--according to the definition used by the Center for Research and Statistics, people whose parents were both born in the Netherlands--has dropped from 348,206 to 344,298.
By my calculations, and the above definition, this means that Rotterdam is currently 58.3% Dutch and 41.7% foreign.
The August Wired is filled with interesting tidbits. In the ReadMe section Janice Gjertsen recommends 'Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language' by Robin I. M. Dunbar:
...Dunbar points out that in today's evolutionary path we can't form communities of more than 150 people.
I want to know more about this!
My ISDN line was installed today and I now have 4 phone numbers to play with. I'm impressed with the flexibility (read: programability) of the 'Quattrovox' home exchange that I bought with the upgrade. I didn't buy an ISDN modem. Telephony in Holland is (still!) metered and the Rotterdam energy company will offer tcp/ip at a flat rate over the cable in my neighborhood in October. It is better to wait a bit longer and go for a 24/7 net presence. God I'm looking forward to it.
Borrowed the posthumous Jeff Buckley 'Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk' from the library.
Took an evening architectural stroll through the Hague to look at the Richard Meier by night. I'm sure that others are going to sniff, but I love the aloofness of this building--(I wonder what davidkremers thinks?). Wyndam Lewis writes in Tarr of Tarr's bowler 'cutting cleaning lines through space'. Meier makes them VERY CLEAN lines. The building ascends from the urban squalor (another turn of phrase by Wyndam springs to mind, the transformation of Notting Hill into Rotting Hill) and at night literally dazzles in contrast.
Meier has created heaven's administration building. And manages to take us away from all this death...
There was a concert by the 'Asian Youth Orchestra' this evening on a barge parked under my window. Quite an affair--the preparations have taken days.
Sunday in Rotterdam
Went to the Zoo (with Loes). Had lunch at Bazar. Bought an apple taart at Dudok. Bought a kilo of very strong espresso on the Blaak market from a stall selling Colombian coffee. Came home and cleaned the fridge. Cooked dahl and rice (for two) for dinner. Went to bed. Slept wonderfully.
I've just re-uploaded the Alamut site to my new host server. I've had a lot of trouble the past few days uploading to this unix server and have spent a fair bit of time looking for the causes. At first I thought it was a problem with my tool of choice, a piece of software called 'Mirror' aka 'NetClone' which simply mirrors the changes between (local and remote) directories, but then I found I had trouble with Anarchie and Fetch (ftp clients for the mac) as well.
BTW: neither Anarchie nor Fetch do automatic 'mirroring'--as far as I'm concerned a NECESSITY on a large site where pages are constantly changing--the alternative is to keep track of what changes and upload by hand... Ugh!!!! I am very anxious to get Mirror working...
Finally I found the two culprits: my 'mapping settings' of Internet Config were not set and I was using the ~ key in some of my file names which would upload okay and browse okay but when later read by the ftp engine would be redirected to a non-existing directory. ~ has a specific use in unix and cannot be used (as I was) to force a file or directory to the bottom of a list (as you can do on the mac).
Just noted that JK is 'Back from Burgundy' and plans to trade in an old estate for a new one! http://www.ciw.net/ciw_nqp5.html
Interrupted Service Continued
This migration is a pain. Just when I was thinking that we had the problems licked, there appears a new one. The unix server is in a diffent time zone (minus 7 hours) and sets the modification date of the file to the moment that it is uploaded. This makes local to remote mirroring impossible as the files on my hard disk are ALWAYS more recent! That is, everytime I connect my mirror software sees all the local files as NEW and wants to upload them ALL!
Yesterday and Today
Yesterday it was too hot to concentrate and I felt depressed and frustrated. I'm afraid it is going to be hot again today.
Yesterday I heard that Jouke is planning to move to France. I'm happy for him but at the same time saddened by the thought that he'll be gone.
Yesterday I invented some more cities for my list of 400.
Yesterday I played around with Frontier (avoiding more pressing 'work') and tried to write a script that would calculate my days alive. I succeeded but the script is very clumsy.
Today I'm 15,482 days alive.
The Cathedral and the Bazaar*
Got a mail from davidkremers last night. He had this to say about Den Haag's Meier:
as for meier den haag...i think it's one of the guy's rare pieces of architecture [architecture is a scarce creature these days having been replaced by buildings]...he's done a terrific job of expressing the town square [agora] while weaving together the conflicting scales of dutch community and modern urban living...and he teaches everyone who walks into that building that civic life is not personal...it's something we all work on together...
the new getty 'masterpiece' on the other hand is a second rate regional airport building in fancy dress materials...someday it will be looked upon as a cultural war crime...
Noticed that BC Tel is starting to offer ADSL in the Greater Vancouver area. http://www.smartt.com
I'm away today...
...with my list of 400 cities.
*was the title of an influential paper on (software) development processes written by Eric S. Raymond in 1997. The cathedral is an ivory tower, closed, proprietary and elitist. The bazaar is down to earth, messy and open to all comers. Both are apt metaphors for a wide variety of problems and positions.
I went with Loes to visit her grandmother in Goor. We met in Amersfoort and carried on by train to Hengelo where Loes rented a bike (I took my Brompton with me) and we rode the last 16 or 17 kilometers to Goor. The road was hot and long--I think we both underestimated how far it was--and we arrived late.
No matter, Loes' 'oma' was very happy to see us.
On the way back we took a detour to Diepenheim to visit the exhibition of herman de vries (like davidkremers herman de vries spells his name with small letters.) This was my first visit to Kunstvereniging Diepenheim--I'd heard about it for years but I never had a chance to visit. Interesting place financed as I understand by an enthusiastic group of people (architects etc.) from the village. Unfortunately the exhibition left me cold.
I had planned to make some notes on 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar' but got distracted and spent a few (happy) hours this morning reading Stirner instead.
'Ik heb mijn zaak aan niets gestelt' is the Dutch equivalent of 'Ich hab' Mein' Sach' auf Nichts gestellt', --and both a line from Goethe and the title of the preface to 'The Ego and its Own', All Things are Nothing to Me.
Met with Femke Wolting today. She wants me to 'run' a workshop for film and television people for the Exploding Cinema section of the Rotterdam Film Festival.
Saw a small slashed 'Who's Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue' by Gert-Jan van Bladeren in a gallery here in Rotterdam. He's the man who slashed the original in the Stedelijk some years ago. His own copy appeared painted with house paint--the colors were off--but the cuts in the canvas looked very artistic.
I've been exploring Frontier's scripting language (looking for a solution to my upload problems). As an exercise I programmed a daysAlive function to calculate how many days I've been here:
Had a meeting with Maurice at the Brain Park. He's written four short characterizations of the four 'G' cities that his office is working on: 'Gaseous City', 'Gesthsemane City', 'Gross City' and 'Ground Zero City'. I'll translate them and post them in the Amsterdam 2.0 directory some time next week.
Still No News from CIW...
I wrote this little agent this morning (in Frontier's language UserTalk) to check JK's site for me and tell me if he's updated it. There has been no word from him since his call last Monday morning. He must be very busy...
I finally got around to htmlizing The Cathedral and the Bazaar. This is an amazing essay. I believe that there are many ideas here which are relevant to practices other than software engineering.
Interrupted Service Redux
More problems. Uploading to my new virtual web host has definitely turned into a saga. Last Thursday I finally got word from Ben Sinclair, the Senior Systems Administrator at Llamacom that it was not possible to set an environmental variable to offset the minus 7 hour time difference between Rotterdam and wherever they are. Thus I either had to permanently set my system clock 7 hours back (i.e. not with DST, daylight savings time, but with PST, penultimate savings time!) or find another solution.
As I'm using Frontier to build and manage this web site and Frontier is first and foremost a scripting language it made sense to see whether it was possible to find a Frontier solution to the problem. As it happens I was able to find a couple of ftp clients written in Frontier, one of which was programmed to upload to the remote server a small file which should have taken care of the offset problem--but unfortunately I couldn't get either of them to work (at least not with the current software release).
Which left writing my own ftp client. This is non-trivial--I'm what they call in Frontier scripting circles a 'Newbie'. I did find a suite of tcp tools which contained an upload script which looked promising. I mailed the tool's developer, a very nice guy named Alan German and lucky for me he offered to write a script for me which does the job. Today I've spent most of the day testing it.
And it seems to work. Thanks Alan!
More Good News
Fred called this afternoon. He's talked with the board in Wageningen and they've agreed to pay us the final portion of our artists fee--NOW. They have also agreed to waive their original stipulation that (if they were going to pay for it) a book on 'Nuclear Garden' would have to be published before the end of the exhibtion.
Well this is good news (even though they only have Hfl. 2,500 reserved for the book). It is now expected that book be published or well on its way to being published by the end of the year when they close their accounts on the project. I'm going to have to talk with Arjen again.
Read Last Night: An Interview with Gore Vidal in July's Wired
Do you find the future more interesting than it used to be?
Less interesting. The only hopeful sign that I see is that our number two export, after weapons, is entertainment. Can Disney save us? Tune into the next millenium. I haven't made reservations, since, actually, I'm not going to spend much--if any--time there.
A good argument for cloning perhaps?
What's the point of a physical duplicate when it is the mind-experience that *is* a person? Yet if memory could be saved at regular intervals, one might have a true immortality--very tempting in the sense that the more one knows, the more wonderful consciousness is...
My little agent works! This morning it informed me that JK has updated CIW with a lovely summer picture of the 'estate of their desire' together with oodles of ascii consideration on the economic consequences of their plans to leave the Netherlands:
We Are Living in Bursts
Moving there is a radical break from where your reputation is, where your income is and where you know the rules...
...The break is the hard part. A break for the better: for a continuation of what has been achieved, a re-evaluation of the best that has happened, for the cause of the best to happen. At this stage in life you don't want insecurity. But you need experimentation. What we fear most is isolation, or going to a place where no one will follow, thus not generating any impact on developments we have been co-leading for the past 20 years...
The radical break, the jump, the new challenge--keep life from becoming boring and stimulate the mind. Change must be part of our stock in trade. But it is scary...
DaysAlive vers. 2.1
Found an even more simple way to calculate my daysAlive:
Bent Out of Shape
Is what happens to Alamut when you use MS Window's browsers and their BIG fonts to view these pages. Or so I discovered to my dismay yesterday evening when I again had access to a window's/snelnet machine in Amsterdam. This page in particular was bent WAY WAY out...
The culprits: a number of long non-breaking lines were pushing the main table cell wider than it should be. I removed them from this page this morning (FYI they were: a line of Frontier code, a URL Mike sent me and a URL of a scripting.com piece).
In the future I'll try to watch this but please let me know if things do not appear right. The results on my 640 x 480 powerbook (with Netscape 2.02) always look good...
Tidied up, backed up my hard disk (for the first time in half a year!), ordered my taxes.
Met with Jente, Mark and Jouke in Amsterdam this evening to discuss the commission to propose a work for the new 'Stadsdeelkantoor' in Amsterdam North.
Afterwards I went to Loes' house and stayed up most of the night writing and testing a .cgi script on her SnelNet computer.
Met Ronald van Tienhoven on the Kinkerstraat where I was shopping for a new cordless phone. Today both he and Mark Madel have a birthday. Happy Birthday Mark and Ronald!
Spent the whole day writing a .cgi for our server at Media-GN: 'The Media-GN Days Alive Server'. Writing a .cgi is easier than I thought and a hell of a lot of fun. Lots of ideas for other daemons... Would be interesting (for example) to write a 'Cadaver Exquis Server'.
A year or so ago Mark Madel mentioned that I should read an article that he'd read in an old Wired on ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. This morning I got around to finding and reading the piece, 'Interrupt-Driven' by Evan I. Schwartz, which was published in Wired 2.06 (June 1994).
You would think from the word 'deficit' that ADD sufferers are unable to 'pay attention'. Not exactly true. ADD means:
One of those days...
Sat down early to do some Amsterdam 2.0 work. But... before I could begin I had to check my email. With my mail I got a reply to the question I posed yesterday on the Script Meridian list concerning sorting nested tables. Some kind soul had included a script embedded in binary format. But... before I could try it I had to download the Frontier suite that handles binary objects. When I tried to install this I got errors for my trouble. So I decided to do a batch export and update my root and the kernal to 5.0.1. This ended up taking most of the day...
As consolation, (Maurice, if you are reading this...) here's an epigram from Hillaire Belloc (which you could say vindicates the need for a strong constitution in the land of diverse ideologies):
Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight,
Got the 'minutes' from our meeting last Wednesday evening from Jente. I've been thinking about the project over the last couple of days and think we should look carefully at these two sites (which I've mentioned earlier here on Alamut):
SWIKI (squeak wiki wiki server):
STICK FIGURE DEATH THEATRE:
It's storming this evening in the Entrepot Haven. Hard rain against the windows. I love it. (And I finally did get some Amsterdam 2.0 work done.)
Held my breath this morning while updating Alamut. Wasn't sure that my backup script would work past yesterday's root and version upgrade. No need for alarm-everything worked well.
Completed and uploaded my list of 400 possible cities for Amsterdam 2.0:
Noticed that I've been failing to render a large part of the August 5 entry which I had commented out and forgotten... It's back where it should be now.
My first day back in Groningen (at Media-GN). This week for just one day and that was probably a good thing as I was tired (having had only 4 hours sleep) and definitely need time to adjust.
Met with Margo Slomp and Mark Madel and discussed the plans for the coming school year. Briefly saw Isabelle, Aldje and Rijk. Visited the museum with Mark Madel to check out the space reserved for our presentation.
Mark's having trouble finding the link for the adult section ('Must be 18') of the Stick Figure Death Theatre (SFDT), so
Mark, here it is:
Attended my second Virtual Platform meeting at the Vormgevings Institute this morning. As the Media-GN representative it is interesting to observe and participate in the formation of Dutch cultural policy. Digital media and culture are the government's wild west.
Returned to Rotterdam with Alex and Andreas from V2. Andreas seemed very excited by my notion that Grotius' 'Mare Liberum -- Freedom of the Seas' could be used as the starting point of an analysis of Dutch public space.
Visited VHP (Maurice's office) in the afternoon to look at how the Amsterdam 2.0 projects were coming along. From there I went on to the Erasmus University where Arthur Elsenaar and Remco Scha made a 'Huge Harry' performance for the opening of a conference on neuro-anatomy.
After the opening Arthur, Remco and I went to dinner at Bazar. The talk was stimulating and the atmosphere was okay but the food was terrible--won't eat there again.
For days I've wanted to call my broker to discuss my porfolio but have been too busy to get around to it. This morning I had the time and thought I'd check the television first--turning it on just in time to watch the European markets collapse.
Think Global, Act Local
I remember reading a (children's?) story once concerning a young man who was convinced that his behavior and attention affected world behavior. I suspect this is rather common--the heroine of Lars von Trier's brilliant melodrama 'Breaking the Waves' is convinced that only by behaving 'badly' can she 'save' her marriage and her husband.
Can attention, unemployed and restless, actually manufacture its object?
Yesterday I spent my entire day observing (courtesy of CNBC) the market slaughter that started on the European bourses and then spread to Wall Street. The DOW suffered its third greatest point loss in history last night. The reason for the sell-off was ostensibly the collapse of the Russian economy but in fact it was due to market sentiment rather than purely technical conditions. The sentiment is bad. The feeling is that all the little straws of bad news from Asia, Latin America and Russia have finally broken the camel's back. The bull has turned into a bear.
The most frequently used word (FUW) these days is 'exposure'. How exposed is any particular company to the effects of the Russian economic collapse? Where are the safe havens?
The situation provides a tough personal test. I've been fortunate with my publishing (VNU) and banking (ING) investments (which I sold about a month ago) but I'm being hit with pretty bad losses from the remainder of my portifolio (Ahold and Baan). Yesterday I watched my profits being eaten away at an extraordinary rate. My broker fears the worst ("sentiment is important") and advises me to sell. I've sold at the wrong time several times now and have learned not to sell on impulse. So I wait.
YOU NEED A STRONG STOMACH FOR THIS GAME. A stomach that I'm not sure that I have. Its tough to face the news--success demands remaining calm, but to remain calm you are forced to turn the televsion off and put on a blindfold. Media watching quickly turn into hyper-focus and the exaggeration of data. Success requires paying attention but at the same time requires moderation (information hygiene). Blindness is not always the opposite of insight...
I'm 15,500 days alive today!
Apropos my observation the other day (August 27), that restless attention manufactures its object, I'm reminded of the Victorian adage 'Idle Hands are the Devil's Playground.'
Did a search this morning for the logo implementation that I mentioned last week at the VHP office. Its called StarLogo and can be found here (external link).
StarLogo was developed by the Epistemology and Learning Group at MIT. StarLogo's purpose:
StarLogo is a programmable modeling environment for exploring the workings of decentralized systems -- systems that are organized without an organizer, coordinated without a coordinator. With StarLogo, you can model (and gain insights into) many real-life phenomena, such as bird flocks, traffic jams, ant colonies, and market economies.
In decentralized systems, orderly patterns can arise without centralized control. Increasingly, researchers are choosing decentralized models for the organizations and technologies that they construct in the world, and for the theories that they construct about the world. But many people continue to resist these ideas, assuming centralized control where none exists -- for example, assuming (incorrectly) that bird flocks have leaders. StarLogo is designed to help students (as well as researchers) develop new ways of thinking about and understanding decentralized systems.
The question is whether a simulation tool like StarLogo can effectively be used to design (decentralized) buildings or other works of art. That is: would it be possible to use a swarm of autonomous agents to create interesting forms and structures? Could one create a swarm of buildings? We do not look for images but the real thing.
PROJECT IDEA: create a simulation to explore the interaction between various types of 'use' agents within a building or environment -- the initial architects and builders, the maintenance janitors and policemen, and the counter-cultural (and inevitable) vandals and hackers, hell bent on cracking or destroying the structures that confront them.
This has been a long held fantasy of mine: to create a dangerous 'Don't Fuck With Me' artwork, a sculpture (or a building) that can fight back...
Alamut is now searchable.
Loes is reworking her thesis project and thinking about setting up a server to store (and trade in) poetic
annotations. This morning she showed me a paper written by Terry Winograd describing a web based annotation
system developed at Stanford and we spent some time talking about the concept, including the history of
electronic annotation: from Project Xanadu
through 'The Open Society and its Media' to the current CritSuite developed for the Foresight Institute.
Note: Loes wants to develop a 'bibliographic' annotation system for URLs--creating a space to share macro-annotations (short poems about links)--not a system to annotate the pages themselves.
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First created: 2/8/98; 19:16:46 CET
Last modified: 11/2/00; 13:34:17 CET